All posts tagged love

The Sweetest Send-Off

Published March 14, 2016 by kokoinsouthafrica

Photo update of my farewell party at my host family’s house!

Filled with laughter and tears and hugs, I couldn’t have asked for a sweeter way to say goodbye.





Published April 15, 2015 by kokoinsouthafrica

I went to Greece for Easter holiday. Here’s a photo update! 


Travel buddies!


The food was to die for.


Everything is hella beautiful.


Like hella.


And really old.


With so much history.


And culture.


Those ancient Greeks really knew what they were doing.


It’s quite impressive.


Stray cats & dogs everywhere.


Theater was a huge part of ancient Greece.


Like really huge.


They took it very seriously.


Theaters everywhere.


Hydra is an incredible island. Can you say retirement destination??


No cars allowed. The only transportation is via horse or donkey.


Trotted all the way up the mountainside.


Feline fest.


The Panathenaic Stadium was probably my favorite place to be.


And run.


And sit.


People love their art installations here. Hand crafts everywhere.


More food. Because…food.


Ancient Greece also had libraries.


Where people could gather to share written and spoken word.


Headless and armless statues everywhere. Sometimes intentional, sometimes not.


How can something built over 2,000 years ago still be standing!??!


What a beautifully enriching experience.


In The Trenches

Published April 2, 2015 by kokoinsouthafrica

A little update on what I’ve been doing so far this year with work!

In an effort to target HIV & TB, the South African Department of Health and its partners teamed up for some serious outreach campaigning. After months of planning events for HTAs (high-transmission areas) geared toward high-risk population groups, we finally got to put our plans in motion and boy, was it chaotic! Our plan was to focus efforts, manpower and resources on 3 population groups that we felt needed a little TLC in regards to health services- college students, mine workers and public transportation drivers. With all of the partner organizations, we had a full array of health care services available to offer- HIV Counseling & Testing, also testing for Tuberculosis, STIs, high-blood pressure, high-blood sugar and other minor ailments, as well as Implanon implantations, Medical Male Circumcision, family planning consultations and male and female condom demonstrations  and distribution.

With over half a dozen service providers ready to work, we began by targeting the FET (tertiary) colleges of Sekhukhune. I personally enjoy working with college students- they’re energetic and curious and easy to talk to…it makes my job more fun. It is also particularly important to target the college student population because statistically speaking, new cases of transmission are reported most frequently within this group. Working at the colleges is always lively and loud. We worked until very late in the evenings, always having to leave behind a line of students because daylight ran out.

Next we moved on to the mines. South Africa is the leading exporter [in the entire world] for platinum and chrome. Men from all over the country, and neighboring countries, flood to the mines to find work, and are often times forced to rent accommodation in proximity to the mines- meaning they are far from their families for extended periods of time. Many of these men seek out the comfort of sex workers and alcohol, putting everyone involved at high risk for transmission of HIV, TB and other infectious diseases. In addition to targeting these migrant workers for health outreach, we made special efforts to target hard-to-reach mining villages that have been developed subsequently around the mines. These tiny communities are built in pockets of the Tubatse mountains, making access to primary health care, schools, and general civilization very difficult. Never before had I been in an place where illiteracy was so centralized and ubiquitous, but the people were so kind. When we find people testing positive for HIV or TB, we must triangulate them into a treatment plan and enforce treatment adherence. This is a difficult task when resources are scarce and there is a lack of proper health education that would normally provide a platform for promoting the importance of accessing health care services. Not to mention the language barrier, SHEESH. I put my Sepedi skills to work, that’s for sure.

Lastly, we moved on to targeting drivers of taxis and buses. We partnered up with the Department of Transportation to gain access into bus and taxi ranks where we could set up mobile clinics so drivers could easily access health services. Drivers are considered a high-risk population for similar reasons as mine workers- they are predominantly men who travel frequently. In addition to spending a lot of time away from their homes, drivers of public transportation here have somewhat of a reputation for being young, promiscuous and socially deviant. They function in society as a sort of mafia where they hold a monopoly over public transit and a level of self-proclaimed power but generally speaking, they are deprecated in communities.

But regardless of a person’s vocational sector, every person has a right to access quality health care with dignity, and counseling services with compassion; we as an agency for change are striving to reach even the most marginalized groups in an effort to reduce global incidence of HIV and other infectious diseases. HIV is a very complex virus and there are many social, cultural, medical and economical reasons is has run so rampant around the globe, particularly in South Africa. It is an honor to be part of an organization that embodies my own ideals for health outreach and allows me to pursue my passion for providing health service to improve qualify of life.


Soooo this is what I’ve been up to lately. Time to bounce out for Easter holiday!

Smooches ❤

Ultra Music Festival – South Africa

Published March 17, 2015 by kokoinsouthafrica

I love me some music festivals.




UMF, or Ultra Music Festival, is an annual music festival of the electronic persuasion. It originated in Miami, Florida in 1999 and instantly gained popularity in the EDM world. With close to 200,000 attendees and tickets selling out every single year, the event grew and began holding international shows. It has debuted in over 9 countries worldwide and finally hit Africa in 2014.

This is the largest EDM event on the African continent, and after hearing great reviews from other PCV friends about the 2014 event, some friends and I decided 2015 was our year to venture to Johannesburg and steal a slice of this magic, which started at noon and went until the wee hours of the morn.


We walked into the expo grounds and all I can say is…oh. my god. So many beautiful people. Like I can’t even.
Was there some unwritten requirement that all attendees be tan, buff and beautiful? Is this where they’ve all been hiding?? I felt like Doug Butabi walking into the Roxbury and all I could stutter was “Sup?” over and over.

Instantly I noticed a severe lack of kandi and gear in general that’s indicative of raving. People were mostly wearing regular (African summer time) clothing, but you can’t judge a book by its cover- there was no shortage of PLUR at this expo center.

An almost palpable positive energy was floating through the air, mixed with some excitement and glitter. People were astoundingly polite and friendly. If someone accidentally bumped into you they’d turn around instantly and genuinely apologize. Whoa. And when packed like sardines in front of the main stage, anyone trying to pass would politely ask to maneuver around you…unlike the elbow throwing that I’ve seen at other festivals. It felt like everyone was genuinely grateful to be there, grateful for the opportunity to experience the magic, and they left their egos at home for the night. This might have been partially because it was Valentine’s Day, so everyone was in lovey-dovey moods and high spirits.

Not only did I get to share this day with some of my closest PCVs, but my brother-from-another-mother Jovani was there as well! EDC partners since day 1, I felt incredibly lucky that we also got to share our first UMF experience together.



UMF-SA had a wonderful blend of featured South African artists, as well as the expected international headliners- Armin, Martix Garrix, Axwell & Ingrosso, to name a few.

Of the South African DJs, I really enjoyed Black Coffee. He’s pretty widely known in SA, and is a magnificent example of how sensational and unique South African house music can be.

It would be cliche for me to say Armin Van Buuren’s set was the best of all, (even though it was.) I appreciate his ability to read a crowd and play a set that he feels caters to the majority of the audience, but I wished he played more originals, and I wanted more melodic and soft trance. What we got was hard, pounding, “I wanna see everyone jump!” tracks over and over again. It was still fun though, but talk about a calf workout. Yeesh.

Stepping aside from the expectations and traditions, I’d say my favorite set of the night was DVBBS. They brought this unruly, head-banging energy to the moment, similar to Steve Aoki but with less cake and champagne. I fully enjoyed every track they dropped, especially Pyramids. The whole crowd lost their shiz, including me.

By the 12th hour or so, my feetsies and brain needed a break from the ever-present thumping bass at the main stage, so a couple friends and I headed to another stage to finish up with Gorgon City. They provided a pleasant change of energy; swaying back and forth to some groovy deep house while wiggling my bare toes into the cool grass and getting lost in the fog machines…it was a solid way to end such a magical event.


One trademark of Ultra, and I guess most international festivals, is to bring a national flag to represent where everyone came from. This is a quick and easy way to see how global dance music has become, and how it unites people from all around the world.

UMF – SA was sold out with over 20,000 attendees, and I spotted flags from all over… South Africa (of course), Argentina, Canada, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Mozambique, Spain, Tanzania, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe… the list could keep going.

I think it’s important to recognize the significance of what the appearance of all these flags really means…it means that people from every different race, country, culture and religion can be united by music. They can dance and sing and frolic about without any negativity or judgement. Our differences are celebrated and everyone proudly waves their flags in the air while also looking around and taking in the beauty of all the other flags that are present.



The next day, the typical Post-Music-Festival-Stress-Disorder set in. This is happens when the event is over, you are tired, sore, and deeply saddened by the fact that the magic had to end. This feeling can happen after UMF, EDC, or any other music festival where you danced your little heart out and connected with the love and energy of people around you. We stayed at a quaint backpackers which was walking distance to a lot of things so we cured this depression with a big lunch and a trip to the movie theaters to check out Fifty Shades of Grey. Sitting in a cool, air-conditioned theater is a great way to relax post-festival. I highly recommend it.

UMF – SA was a great experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share it with. If I’m still around for UMF 2016- I might just have to go back!



Also check out A Dark Minded Giggle for more of my EDM reviews and satirical humor.


Races: #3. 5k for Breast Cancer

Published September 15, 2014 by kokoinsouthafrica
A sea of pink!

A sea of pink!

Ok so this wasn’t a race, technically it was a walk, but this event is very special to me for a few reasons. I used to participate in Honolulu’s Breast Cancer Walk annually so I was stoked to find that they have one here in South Africa! I lost my grandmother to breast cancer 6 years ago, it’s scary to have seen how cancer can take over the human body so quickly and mercilessly. Losing my grammy bear was one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced and in the healing process I’ve come to recognize that we women need to take ownership over our own personal health and wellbeing. Early detection is key and regular visits to the doctor are imperative because they give us dignity and power over our bodies.

My cookie & me.

My cookie & me.

Pick N Pay sponsored this event and provided many incentives, prizes and even on-site free breast examinations! Over 2,000 people participated and all the funds raised go straight into providing breast cancer screenings and medical treatment to woman who cannot afford such services.
What was even more impressive is that my host mother wanted to join me and my volunteer friends on the walk. She’s thrilled to participate in events like this & I am hopeful that there are many more events we can do together!

Lauren, Katie, me, Mapula, Vero, Zoe, and Tori took the photo!

Lauren, Katie, me, Mapula, Vero, Zoe, and Tori took the photo!

After the race we spent a leisurely day at the mall- shopping, eating, and we even saw a movie! I had forgotten how much I love movie theaters, it’s been over 8 months since I’ve been in one! 😛 We saw The Giver, which I was really excited about. I read the book when I was younger and I enjoy seeing literature turned into film. The movie was great and although some minor details strayed from the book’s storyline, I still definitely recommend seeing it!

Also this weekend we went on a drive through a game reserve to look at some wild animals. We saw a ton! Giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, ostriches & kudus to name a few.



One thing I love about South Africa is the ability to spend the day in an urbanized area with organized athletic events and shopping malls, and then to be able to watch wild giraffes frolicking in the sunset. ❤

Sunset in the game reserve.

Sunset in the game reserve.